New EPA report confirms: “First and worst”

September 22, 2021

Washington governor Jay Inslee often says, “Air pollution, severe weather and the economic upheaval brought on by climate change impacts black and minority communities first and worst”. A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency confirms this to be true — and illustrates how devastating climate change is for already-overburdened communities. The analysis examined the effects of the global temperature rising 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre industrial levels.

Darryl Fears and Dino Grandoni write in The Washington Post:

In 49 cities analyzed for the study, from Seattle to Miami, Black people are 41 percent to 59 percent more likely to die as a result of poor air quality.

Black children 17 and younger would also suffer disproportionately, the study found. They are 34 percent to 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with asthma depending on the range of temperature increases based on where they live.

Native Americans and Latinos are more likely to be affected by extreme temperatures where they work. Latinos would be 43 percent more likely than others to lose work hours and pay because it’s too hot, while American Indians and Alaskan Natives are 37 percent more likely to lose hours.

The University of Washington’s Dr. Jeremy Hess is quoted in USAToday saying, 

As climate change worsens, those inequities are going to be more and more severe. The hazards are likely to compound over time. A lot of these communities that are really highly impacted also have relatively few protections and limited options for reducing their risks.

As Washington state moves to cap emissions and invest in a clean economy, we have a moral imperative to work for environmental justice. Recognizing the disproportionate burdens borne by minority communities in our state is an essential first step. But to accelerate action we need to ensure that clean energy investment benefits flow to disadvantaged communities. That’s why we will host A Courageous Conversation about Environmental Justice on October 6.

Please join Clean & Prosperous Washington as we have a courageous conversation about environmental justice and equity, featuring some of Washington’s most respected voices, and led by national environmental justice leader Paula Sardinas of the Washington Build Back Black Alliance. 

The heartbeat of this important session is looking at environmental policy through the lens of racial equity.  The discussion will focus on why environmental justice communities pushed for passage of the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), how the policy prioritizes overburdened communities, what the CCA’s Environmental Justice & Equity Advisory Panel will do, and when there will be important public comment opportunities. 

With the CCA’s implementation and planning already in motion, don’t miss this important discussion centering environmental policy through the lens of racial equity. Save your spot by registering HERE for A Courageous Conversation about Environmental Justice on Wednesday October 6 at 2 p.m. PT.

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